Collective Phenomena in Liquids: Liquid Crystals and Superfluidity

  • Pierre Papon
  • Jacques Leblond
  • Paul H. E. Meijer
Part of the Advanced Texts in Physics book series (ADTP)


A crystal melts when the thermal energy which tends to create disorder, becomes greater than the intermolecular interaction energy which stabilizes the periodic structure of the crystal, ensuring its cohesion. The structure is then broken up and the molecular positional order is destroyed. The molecules are then free to move randomly. On the contrary, if the molecules are rod-shaped, a different process can be observed. At a certain temperature (melting point of the crystal), the thermal energy can be sufficient to destroy the positional order, but still insufficient to oppose the intermolecular forces responsible for the orientational order. A mesomorphic phase is then obtained: the molecules can conserve a preferred orientation within the liquid. Finally, at a higher temperature (melting point of the mesomorphic phase), this ordered liquid phase will give rise to the isotropic phase of the normal liquid, when the thermal energy will be sufficient to overcome the contribution of the potential energy which favors alignment of the molecules. In crystals formed from quasispherical molecules, each molecule occupies a well-defined place in the lattice; the centers of gravity of the molecules are located in a three-dimensional periodic lattice — the molecules have positional order. In a crystal, rod-shaped molecules also have positional order, but they also have the same direction at any point; there is in addition orientational order. This positional order breaking induces the appearance of the liquid crystal phase.


Liquid Crystal Directional Vector Nematic Phase Isotropic Phase Liquid Crystal Phase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Chaikin, P. M., Lubenski, T. C.: Principles of Condensed Matter Physics ( Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1995 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. de Gennes, P. G., Prost, J.: The Physics of Liquid Crystals, 2nd edn. ( Oxford Science Publications, Oxford 1995 ).Google Scholar
  3. Heppke, G., Moro, D.: Chiral order from achiral molecules, Science 279, 1872–1873 (1998).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Huang, K.: Statistical Mechanics ( Wiley, New York 1963 ).Google Scholar
  5. Liebert, L. (ed.): Liquid Crystals, Solid State Physics, Suppl. Vol. 14 ( Academic Press, New York 1978 ).Google Scholar
  6. Rice, R. W.: Ceramic tensile strength-grain size relations, J. Mater. Sci. 32, 1673–1692 (1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Sachdev, S.: Quantum Phase Transitions ( Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001 )Google Scholar
  8. Tilley, D. R., Tilley, J.: Superfluidity and Superconductivity ( Adam Hilger, Bristol 1990 ).Google Scholar
  9. Wright, D., Mermin, D.: Crystalline liquids: the blue phases, Rev. Mod. Phys. 385 (April 1989).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Papon
    • 1
  • Jacques Leblond
    • 1
  • Paul H. E. Meijer
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physique ThermiqueÉcole Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de Paris (ESPCI)ParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsCatholic University of AmericaUSA

Personalised recommendations